Anca Parghel

Indian Princess

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Although this CD is titled Indian Princess, Anca Parghel grew up in Romania, not India. The fact that Parghel is a jazz singer from Romania is certainly noteworthy, for Romania, unlike much of Western Europe, is hardly known for its abundance of jazz singers. Europeans could name a long list of jazz vocalists who came from Sweden, France, Holland, or Denmark, but that's not the case with Romania, which suffered under the iron boot of Stalinism for much of the 20th century. Romania had one of Eastern Europe's most infamous Stalinist regimes, and when dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (who was overthrown and executed in the late '80s) was in power, all things Western were suspect. But Parghel managed to discover jazz along the way, and 1990's Indian Princess shows her to be a recognizable singer, whose influences range from Billie Holiday, Betty Carter, and Sarah Vaughan to 1960s and 1970s post-bop instrumentalists. Though Parghel sings with an accent, she's easy to understand on such probing material as "I Love You" (not to be confused with the Cole Porter standard) and "Beautiful Colors." Parghel's scat singing is fairly adventurous. The emotional title song, in fact, finds her combining jazz with the type of wordless vocals that are part of traditional Indian music. Although Indian Princess is a bit uneven, it demonstrates that Parghel is an expressive singer whose risk-taking pays off more often than not.

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